Teaching pupils how to give feedback…

As part of Assessment for Learning, the use of peer and self evaluation has become a standard part of classroom practice.  However, is it being done effectively and actually helping children progress in their work?

Di Pardoe gave our school a few tips to help generate more effective feedback, such as the use of trios and ‘book on top of book’ marking.  Trios (pairing children in threes rather than twos) has had a visible impact on the discussions that take place in the classroom. Previously when classes were observed, you would have various ‘pairs’ of children not exchanging ideas, whereas when children are grouped in ‘trios’ the ideas that are generated tend to be more substantial.  Three children add a different dynamic to a group and it does help to elicit more discussion.

Another simple idea is to get children to put their book on top of their partner’s book and to self and peer assess their work together.  This way the pairs discuss the things that work well and the things that need to be improved based on success criteria.  This simple change, ensures that children are focused on one piece of work and can discuss the ‘next steps’ together rather than in isolation.

Hattie discusses the importance of teaching children how to give feedback based on prompts and key questions.  He affirms that, “students and their peers regarded giving and receiving peer feedback to be a potentially enriching experience because it allowed them to identify their learning gaps, collaborate on error detection and correction, develop their ability to self-regulate, including monitoring their own mistakes, and initiate their own corrective measures or strategies.  A major message is that the positive value of peer feedback requires deliberate instructional suppport (such the use of Gan’s model) of the three major feedback levels and associated prompts for each level” (Hattie, p. 150, 2012).  Therefore, it is essential that teachers model and coach pupils through effective feedback.

This is where visualisers become an invaluable resource. They can give teachers the chance to model how feedback can be given.  Through the use of scaffolds and prompts, children can learn to provide useful, focused and ‘learning’ centred feedback’ that can improve the learning of all involved.

Hattie makes reference to Nuthall’s (2007) research which suggests that 80% of verbal feedback comes from peers (Hattie, p. 147, 2012).  This highlights the importance of teaching children how to give effective feedback.  If we just expect children to know how to provide feedback, then teachers are actually doing more of a disservice to their class than not engaging in such activities.  For feedback to be useful and seen as a positive experience, teachers must model ‘good’ feedback and provide the pupils with scaffolds, frames and prompts to help guide and coach them through the feedback process.

What does peer and self assessment look like in your class?  How do you teach children to give effective feedback that will help (not hinder) the learning process?


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